Jono Shaw

Human Experience Designer
Affective Interaction Explorer
Speculative Art Attempter
Social Robotics Practitioner

What People Say

CosMob App

An app that empowers cosplayers to organize flash mobs effortlessly, thus increasing the exposure of cosplay culture in local communities to challenge and reduce societal prejudices and misunderstandings.

# Diversity and Inclusion
# Cultural Engagement
# Community Empowerment

Collaborative Context Research

Jono Shaw
Carol Sae-Yang
Gab Isidro
Henry Christian

Special Thanks to

Nina Newton
Micheal Donohue

2023 · UX & UI Design · Case Study

Human-Centered Design · User Interface Design · User Experience Design · User Research

Microsoft Fluent Design System · Apple SF Symbols

In response to the challenges of public misconceptions and regional disparities faced by the Australian cosplay community, this project leverages primary and secondary research to create a digital tool designed for easily organizing cosplay flash mobs. This approach not only aims to enhance the visibility of cosplay culture in local communities but also seeks to counteract stereotypes and promote inclusivity by showcasing the creativity and diversity inherent in cosplay, thereby fostering a more accepting and supportive environment for cosplayers nationwide.

Voiceover by Carol Sae-Yang; video produced by Jono Shaw.

Cosplay, originally a niche culture from Asia, has flourished globally, including in Australia, where it was popularized in the early 2000s through significant events across major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. This marked the beginning of a vibrant cosplay community that embraced the diverse facets of pop culture, from anime to American sci-fi, fostering a space for creative self-expression (Lam & Raphael, 2019; King, 2013; Shaw, 2019).

Despite its vibrant nature, the community faces challenges, notably misconceptions from the general public. Some believe cosplayers must precisely resemble the appearances and ethnicities of the characters they portray, often leading to body shaming and discrimination, detracting from cosplay’s essence: creativity and personal interpretation (Johnson, 2020). Additionally, negative stereotypes persist, painting cosplayers as unruly or antisocial, overshadowing the reality of a diverse and passionate community (Muller, 2021).

These issues were validated through our primary research with cosplay practitioner Ms Nina Newton, which underscores our emergent need to address the misconception of “character accuracy” and champion cosplay as inclusive and creatively liberating, countering societal prejudices and fostering broader acceptance.

In summary, one significant challenge facing contemporary cosplay communities in Australia is the prevalant misconceptions among the public, including 1) role accuracy & ethnicity issues and 2) negative impressions from the public. Thus, this project embarked with the following How Might We (HMV) statement:

“How might we address the misconception of ‘character accuracy’ and extensively promote the idea that cosplay should be inclusive and open to creative self-expression of any form?”

Conception and Agile Design Both primary and secondary research indicate the cosplay events in Australia is predominantly urban-centric, with most conventions concentrated in major cities. This geographical imbalance exacerbates the challenge of integrating remote cosplayers, highlighting regional disparities in the perception and accessibility of cosplay culture (Langsford, 2014).

Meanwhile, studies have found a direct link between exposure to a culture and prejudice against that culture:

“In particular, a lack of exposure to the new culture creates difficulties for new expatriates trying to make sense of what they encounter, ..., as one acquires more and varied experiences in the new culture, one can develop an appreciation for how certain attitudes and behaviors fit the puzzle and create an internal logic of the new culture.” (Osland, 2000)

This argument aligns with our design philosophy, which advocates for a more experiential, effortless remedy for the public rather than conventional display or educational platforms that might even exacerbate misunderstandings and mental isolation toward cosplay culture. By creating accessible and engaging scenarios, the public can gain a hands-on understanding of cosplay, helping to bridge the gap and correct prejudices through firsthand experience.

Drawing on these findings, the initial concept of a pop-up space was developed to showcase cosplay culture through exhibitions, forums, workshops, and interactive gaming zones. Designed for ease of setup and adaptability, it enables local volunteers to host exhibitions in community-centric locations such as shopping centers and parks.

However, feedback from user interviews on the preliminary sketches and models highlighted significant shortcomings. The System Usability Scale (SUS) scores were below expectations, with qualitative feedback primarily critiquing the complexity of the spatial structures and interior components, and the logistical challenges of organizing events with this building.

Reflection and Inspiration — Flash MobAnalyzing user feedback revealed that most concerns were related to the design’s physical aspects, leading to a reconsideration of the necessity for a physical setup. This reflection steered our attention toward the impactful concept of flash mobs, a powerful method of cultural promotion that captivates onlookers and extensively spreads culture with minimal effort. Its adaptability and lack of physical boundaries align perfectly with our insights and objectives, offering a compelling model for our design direction.

Photo by Eric Craig.

This insight then brought us to a significant gap: while cosplay’s dynamic nature is ideal for flash mob promotion, there is no specialized tool for cosplayers to organize such events. Currently, cosplayers rely on generic social media, which falls short in facilitating local connections and managing event specifics inherent to cosplay culture.

Thus, the project shifted toward creating a tool designed to enable cosplayers to easily organize flash mobs, enhancing cosplay’s visibility and addressing public misconceptions by increasing its presence in local communities.

The design began with low-fidelity wireframes, progressing to journey mapping to refine the app’s focus on the unique requirements of cosplay flash mob organizers, ensuring its distinctiveness from conventional social platforms.

Mapping the user journey of cosplayers organizing a flash mob refined the app into an effective tool for the coordination of such events. It goes beyond typical social networking functions to address cosplayers’ unique requirements, such as suggesting event themes, connecting with nearby enthusiasts, carpool options with route analysis, and providing uniquely designed photo frames for social media sharing.

While the app is crafted for cosplayers, its broader impact lies in enhancing the visibility and accessibility of cosplay culture nationwide. From a long-term perspective, it seeks to gently addresses public misconceptions and prejudices, fostering a more diverse and inclusive space for cultural expression.

High Fidelity

ReferencesJohnson, S. (2020, February 21). The Black creatives changing the face of cosplay. Vice Media Group.

King, E. (2013). Girls Who are Boys Who like Girls to be Boys: BL and the Australian Cosplay Community. Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, 32.

Lam, C., & Raphael, J. (2019). Aussie fans: Uniquely placed in global popular culture. University of Iowa Press.

Langsford, C., Skuse, A., & Rodger, D. (2014). Cosplay in Australia: (Re)creation and Creativity Assemblage and Negotiation in a Material and Performative Practice.
Muller, R. T. (2021, December 2). Becoming Another Person Through Cosplay | Psychology Today.

Osland, J. S., & Bird, A. (2000). Beyond sophisticated stereotyping: Cultural sensemaking in context. Academy of Management Perspectives, 14(1), 65–77.

Shaw, E. (2019). Space, Performativity and Neo-Tribes in Australian Cosplay [Doctoral dissertation, School of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle].